Senior Clinical Advisor, Diabetes UK
We need to to ensure that people with diabetes are aware of what care they should receive from the health service; including annual screening for kidney disease.
Kidney disease can happen to anyone, but what a lot of people don’t know is that it’s much more common in people with diabetes. This is because high blood glucose levels over many years can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys, causing them to become leaky or stop working.
Managing diabetes is complex
Diabetes is a condition that requires lots of self-management but, with the right support and education, patients can confidently manage their condition. Clinically complex factors of diabetes – like HbA1c, ketones and blood glucose levels – are often second nature to people with the condition. But, for some reason, kidney health checks in people with diabetes are often forgotten.
This could be due to a number of factors. One is that renal education can get lost within the list of potential complications, and so may not be considered a priority either for the person with diabetes, or for their healthcare professional.
Almost 1 in 5 people with diabetes will need treatment for kidney disease in their lifetime.
Screening for kidney disease often forgotten
We also know that kidney disease in diabetes develops very slowly, and often invisibly, over many years. And unlike other tests, the screening for kidney disease is a little bit more complicated as it involves an additional step – a urine sample.
All of this could contribute to the fact that kidney disease screening continues to be, by far, the least-completed diabetes health check. This is a problem as, currently, almost 1 in 5 people with diabetes will need treatment for kidney disease in their lifetime. People with diabetes are also four times more likely to need either kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Preventing kidney disease
But the good news is that there are lots of ways to prevent kidney disease, and if spotted early, it can be slowed down with treatment. That’s why having annual diabetes kidney tests is so important, as they can spot damage early on – often before any symptoms develop.
We need to do better to ensure that people with diabetes are aware of what care they should receive from the health service and reduce the barriers so that they can get the appropriate checks.
Everyone with diabetes should have screening for kidney disease annually. Those who screen negative should have access to ongoing high-quality care, aimed at prevention of kidney disease, while those who screen positive should be offered appropriate investigation and management to delay progression.
Diabetes UK aims for a world where diabetes
can do no harm. It’s essential that we do all we can to keep people as well as
possible for as long as possible. By raising
awareness of kidney disease in diabetes and of the importance of annual kidney
health checks, hopefully this World Kidney Day it is no longer something that
 National Diabetes Audit